Failed Diplomacy

Failed Diplomacy: The Tragic Story of How North Korea Got the Bomb

Charles L. Pritchard
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 228
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  • Book Info
    Failed Diplomacy
    Book Description:

    North Korea's development of nuclear weapons raises fears of nuclear war on the peninsula and the specter of terrorists gaining access to weapons of mass destruction. It also represents a dangerous and disturbing breakdown in U.S. foreign policy. Failed Diplomacy: The Tragic Story of How North Korea Got the Bomb offers an insider's view of what went wrong and allowed this isolated nation -a charter member of the Axis of Evil -to develop nuclear weapons. Charles L. "Jack" Pritchard was intimately involved in developing America's North Korea policy under Presidents Clinton and Bush. Here, he offers an authoritative analysis of recent developments on the Korean peninsula and reveals how the Bush administration's mistakes damaged the prospects of controlling nuclear proliferation. Although multilateral negotiations continue, Pritchard proclaims the Six-Party Talks as a failure. His chronicle begins with the suspicions over North Korea's uranium enrichment program in 2002 that led to the demise of the Clinton-era Agreed Framework. Subsequently, Pyongyang kicked out international monitors and restarted its nuclear weapons program. Pritchard provides a first-hand account of how the Six-Party Talks were initiated and offers a play-by-play account of each round of negotiations, detailing the national interests of the key players -China, Japan, Russia, both Koreas, and the United States. The author believes the failure to prevent Kim Jong Il from "going nuclear" points to the need for a permanent security forum in Northeast Asia that would serve as a formal mechanism for dialogue in the region. Hard-hitting and insightful, Failed Diplomacy offers a stinging critique of the Bush administration's manner and policy in dealing with North Korea. More hopefully, it suggests what can be learned from missed opportunities.

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-7201-9
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. 1 Prelude to Crisis
    (pp. 1-22)

    North Korea’s view of the world order underwent a radical revision on January 20, 2001, with the inauguration of George W. Bush as president of the United States. Chances are, however, that Pyongyang would have had a significant shock had any Republican succeeded President Bill Clinton. Understanding the dynamics of political change in a democracy is not the strong suit of the North Koreans, and the changes that occur when one political party replaces another—or in this case, when the Democrats handed over the keys to the White House to the Republicans—fully mystified Pyongyang.

    From the point of...

  5. Part I The Role of Rhetoric:: Getting to Yes

    • 2 Confrontation over Highly Enriched Uranium
      (pp. 25-44)

      As it turned out, the White House had pulled back from engaging in talks with Pyongyang because it was about to undertake a second review of its North Korea policy. This time the review was directed by the president, who said, through Condoleezza Rice, his national security adviser, that he had a “gut feeling” that the government should not get bogged down in protracted negotiations. He decided instead on an approach designed to address all of his concerns faster. He was prepared to offer more in exchange for the North taking bold steps in each of the areas outlined in...

    • 3 Influencing the Bush Team
      (pp. 45-56)

      During the first term of the Bush administration, the number of people in positions of responsibility who had even a modicum of experience regarding North Korea was extremely limited. That was one of the main reasons that I accepted the offer to become the special envoy for the four-party peace talks (see chapter 11 for a description of the four-party peace initiative) as well as the U.S. representative to the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization.

      I was impressed that the new administration would find value in the experience of someone who had served in the Clinton administration dealing with North...

    • 4 Establishing a Multilateral Framework
      (pp. 57-66)

      The original rationale for holding six-party talks was negative, not positive. In response to Pyongyang’s demand that the United States and North Korea resolve the emerging crisis over uranium enrichment bilaterally, the United States opted to broaden the field of players but refused to deal directly with Pyongyang. Objectively, that was the right decision, but it was based more on a desire not to be seen as repeating the “failure” of the Clinton’s administration’s Agreed Framework. A multilateral framework that included serious bilateral discussions between the United States and North Korea as an essential component from the very beginning might...

  6. Part II Origin of the Six-Party Talks

    • 5 Washington and Seoul: A Falling Out
      (pp. 69-83)

      In discussing the relations between the United States and South Korea, it is worth repeating the comments made by Condoleezza Rice during the presidential campaign in 2000 regarding the importance of working closely with South Korea in dealing with North Korea:

      The regime of Kim Jong Il is so opaque that it is difficult to know its motivations, other than that they are malign. But North Korea also lives outside of the international system. Like East Germany, North Korea is the evil twin of a successful regime just across its border. It must fear its eventual demise from the sheer...

    • 6 The Players
      (pp. 84-98)

      In chapter 4, I described how Secretary Powell had said to the Chinese that, of the potential hosts, they were in the best position to organize and hold multilateral talks to resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis. Powell was inspired to make that comment during a stopover in Tokyo en route to Beijing, when Japanese diplomats told him that they could organize and host a multilateral meeting. While Powell liked the idea of an Asian capital hosting the talks, he knew that Pyongyang would not be enticed by Japan’s offer of leadership. Even though Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi had made...

  7. Part III Six-Party Talks

    • 7 Six-Party Talks: A Scorecard
      (pp. 101-106)

      Almost immediately after the failure of the preliminary three-party talks in April 2003, the Chinese sought to resurrect the process, repeating the three-party formula. By that time, the United States was insisting that any future rounds include the Republic of Korea and Japan. Washington had received approval from Seoul and Tokyo of the first trilateral session, which had excluded them, but with the understanding that the talks would be expanded to include the ROK and Japan as soon as possible. At Moscow’s insistence, the United States quickly added Russia to the list of future participants in any multilateral talks. In...

    • 8 Rounds Four and Five: False Start or Cause for Optimism?
      (pp. 107-131)

      After a hiatus of thirteen months, Pyongyang announced on July 8, 2005, that it was ready to return to six-party talks. During that period of inactivity it was generally thought that Pyongyang was waiting to see whether President Bush would lose his reelection bid in November 2004. In September 2004 I met with Pak Gil-yon, the North Korean ambassador to the United Nations, and expressed my belief that because of the U.S. presidential election Pyongyang was not following through on its commitment to meet for a fourth round of talks by the end of September. The ambassador denied any connection...

    • 9 Consequences and Accountability
      (pp. 132-145)

      It is hard to imagine that the quote that opens this chapter captures a North Korean diplomat making the case to Dan Rather for saving the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, from which Pyongyang withdrew in January 2003.¹ But, of course, there are many parts to the basic message that Kim Gye-gwan relayed to Dan Rather. First, it is an attempt to focus attention on the stakes involved in the six-party talks. Second, it is an attempt to put the other parties to the negotiations on notice that what they have may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, not likely to come again. Third,...

    • 10 Missiles, Nukes, and Talks
      (pp. 146-162)

      Life has a way of getting in the way of the theoretical. The possibility of finding a negotiated resolution to the ever-growing North Korean nuclear crisis was complicated by the North Korean missile launch that occurred on July 4, 2006, and the nuclear test that followed on October 9—nine and thirteen months after the fourth round of six-party talks in September 2005, during one of the long pauses in negotiations that Henry Kissinger warned against.

      A good part of June 2006 was filled with reports, speculation, and plenty of opinions about North Korea’s missile program and the question of...

    • 11 Bilateral Engagement with Pyongyang: The Record
      (pp. 163-168)

      Since 1991, there have been several instances of crisis and confrontation on the Korean Peninsula. So far, only bilateral negotiations between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and either the Republic of Korea or the United States have resulted in a satisfactory resolution of those crises. Multilateral talks, in contrast, have had a notable lack of success. Of course, critics of bilateral engagement with the DPRK are quick to point out that ultimately Pyongyang has failed to implement or uphold its obligations under the terms of bilaterally negotiated settlements and that therefore those talks should not be described as successful....

    • 12 Establishing a Permanent Security Forum
      (pp. 169-184)

      Conventional wisdom has consistently argued against the establishment of any type of unifying security mechanism in Northeast Asia, insisting that the differences separating the major players in the region are simply too extensive and difficult to overcome. The quote below is representative of that line of thinking.

      The chances for successful security cooperation are better when states with similar characteristics and interests band together; hence, membership is selective in such organizations as NATO and the European Union (EU). When states with diverse characteristics try to cooperate, the prognosis for successful multilateral cooperation is often poor. This is the case in...

  8. Epilogue
    (pp. 185-186)

    If at any time during the first six years of the Bush administration anyone had proposed providing a six-man North Korean delegation visiting the United States with fifteen security personnel and four limousines, the individual would have been laughed out of the room. However, that is exactly the treatment Vice Minister Kim Gye-gwan received when he visited New York City to participate in the normalization working group established under the February 13, 2007, agreement between the United States and the DPRK. Adding insult to injury for the hard-line element that had for so long dominated North Korea policy, the working...

  9. APPENDIX A Letter from Charles L. Pritchard to Kim Gye-gwan
    (pp. 187-187)
  10. APPENDIX B Memo Outlining the Objectives, Themes, and Goals of Upcoming Trilateral Talks, April 2003
    (pp. 188-190)
  11. APPENDIX C Statement of Assistant Secretary of State Christopher R. Hill
    (pp. 191-193)
  12. APPENDIX D Report on North Korean Nuclear Program
    (pp. 194-204)
  13. Notes
    (pp. 205-218)
  14. Index
    (pp. 219-228)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 229-230)